Who are these ‘unruly figures’?

This is about the rebels.

This is about the ne’er-do-wells.

This is about the mutineers, the agitators, the subversives.

Unruly Figures is a celebration of history’s biggest rule-breakers.

Twice a month, I dive into the life and times of the greatest rebels the world has known. I talk about their lives, the society they lived in, the decisions they made, and how their refusal to play by the rules changed the world.

Come nerd out and be inspired by history’s favorite risk-takers.

Who are you?

I’m Valorie Clark, a writer and trained historian. At Columbia, I studied the emergence of sexual identities in Victorian England, which really meant that I studied a ton of risk-takers, rule-breakers, and people who wanted to change how society understood love.

Since then I’ve worked in non-profit marketing, but I never forgot my love for unruly people who insisted on doing life their way. So here I am, starting a podcast.


"Valorie Clark's Unruly Figures is a winning formula: fascinating stories beautifully told & meticulously researched, clearly a labour of love from start to finish, and all delivered with BBC-quality production values. Very impressive debut and I'm keen to see what happens next. You'll be too, if you go sign up to it."
-Mike Sowden, Everything Is Amazing

“Unruly Figures is amazing. I’ve been keeping tabs on that stack since before the first pub. The time and care that goes into researching these people is so evident. As someone who loves history but hates the way the school system teaches it, I think this also has genuine merit as an educational resource.”
-Cole Noble, Cole’s Climb

I, and Unruly Figures, were featured on Substack’s What To Read! Check out the interview!

Unruly Figures was featured on Substack again in 2022! Thanks for all the love, everyone!

Why subscribe?

The mythical ad-free podcast

Yes, obviously you can get this podcast for free on any app. And I encourage you to do so!

But if you subscribe here, you’ll get transcripts of the podcast, written biographies of every person I study, bibliographies in case you want to do further reading yourself, discussion threads, and the coveted ad-free podcast. Oooh, aaah.

Subscribing here costs $6 per month or $60 per year.

If you’re a student, send me an email and we can work out a discount for you!

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Listen, it’s a hard world out there for academics (like me!) because good research takes a long time, but our last-capitalism economy isn’t set up for lengthy research projects. Writers and historians like myself are blessed to be able to use the internet to share our work in our own time. By subscribing, you’ll be giving the finger to “hot takes” and supporting thoughtful and in-depth research.

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Stories of real people who refused to play by the rules.


Writer, historian, giant baby about cold weather. Debut book UNRULY FIGURES out everywhere March 5. Preorder: smarturl.it/unrulyfigures